Michael Wise
Michael Wise Courtesy

Judea is the name to be used for the region that people across the world are referring to as the 'West Bank', the 'Disputed Territories', the 'Occupied Territories', “Former West Bank of the Hashemite Kingdom of Transjordan”, and ;Judea and Samaria'.

Why continue to confuse the world and perpetuate false narratives and misleading names? Call the land west of the Jordan River occupied by Transjordan from 1948 until 1967 by the name 'Judea'.

Northern Judea is north of Jerusalem and Southern Judea is south of Jerusalem. For example, the Times of Israel recent headline: “Shots fired at northern West Bank military Post” should say, “Shots fired at military post in Northern Judea.” Or the JNS report: “Three killed, three wounded in Samaria terror attack” should say “Three killed, three wounded in Northern Judea terror attack”.

Judea belongs to the Jews. Samaria is also part of historic Israel. Who are the Samarians? Today there are about 800 people who call themselves Samarians, 400 of whom live on a hilltop opposite Har Bracha (or Mt. Gerizim) northwest of Nablus and 400 in Holon, Israel. They lay no claim to any part of the Land of Israel.

Where did the name Samaria come from? After the death of King Solomon (930 BCE) the tribes of Israel split into the southern Kingdom of Judea and the northern Kingdom of Israel. The border between them was just north of Jerusalem. In 878 BCE, Omri, King of the Northern Kingdom, made the City of Samaria his capital city on a hill bought for two talents of silver (1 Kings 16:23-24). The Northern Kingdom was then called the Kingdom Israel, Ephraim or Samaria, but it reached from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan Valley. Note that parts of modern Israel are in the Northern Kingdom and parts in the Southern Kingdom.

In 726–722 BCE, the king of Assyria, Shalmaneser V, invaded the Northern Kingdom and besieged the city of Samaria. After an assault of three years, the city fell and much of its population was taken into captivity. Over time, the region was controlled by different civilizations.

These included Canaanites, Israelites, Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Seleucids, Hasmoneans, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, Crusaders, and Ottoman Turks.

In 586-587 BCE, the King of the Babylonian Empire, Nebuchadnezzar II, invaded the Southern Kingdom, destroyed Jerusalem and Solomon’s Temple and exiled the Jewish population. The exile ended in 539 BCE and Jews began returning home from Babylon. Some of the inhabitants of the former Northern kingdom may have been descendants of the "Ten Lost Tribes" taken into Assyrian captivity. Scholars believe these so-called Samaritans were a blend of “Lost Tribes” with other nationalities whom the Assyrians had resettled in the area.

In 113 BCE, the Jewish Hasmonean ruler John Hyrcanus destroyed the Samaritan temple on Mt Gerizim and in 6 CE, following the death of King Herod, the Samaria region became part of the Roman province of Judea. In Acts 1:8 there is a reference to Judea and Samaria. In the Talmud, the Samaritans are called the “Cuthim". By the Middle Ages, the Jewish explorer Benjamin of Tudela estimated that fewer than 1,900 Samaritans remained.

After the defeat of the Ottoman Empire in World War I, Britain was entrusted by the League of Nations to administer the Mandate for Palestine until a Jewish National Home could be established. No reference to “Samaria”, to a “West Bank” or to Arabs was made in the Mandate.

On 17 June 1946 the Treaty of London created the Hashemite Kingdom of Transjordan, east of the Jordan River. It was carved out of the original Mandate and represented over 75% of the Mandate for Palestine. It included no region west of the Jordan River. The term 'West Bank' did not yet exist.

The 1947 UN partition plan called for a Jewish state and a second Arab state to include "the hill country of Samaria and Judea." The Arab Higher Committee rejected the proposal and argued that only an Arab State in the whole of Palestine would be acceptable.

The Jewish State of Israel was declared in May 1948 and Clark Clifford, President Harry Truman’s legal advisor assumed that the Jewish state would be called ‘Judea’.

Jordan's Arab Legion crossed the Jordan River and illegally occupied parts of the original British Mandate. The 1949 Armistice Agreements between Israel and the Hashemite Kingdom of Transjordan ended the hostilities of the 1948 Arab–Israel War, and drew the so-called Green Armistice Line that separated Israel from the Transjordan occupation.

In 1950 the area was annexed as the 'West Bank of the Hashemite Kingdom of Transjordan'. Hence the term 'West Bank'. The illegal annexation was recognized by only United Kingdom and Pakistan. Not Syria. Not Egypt. No one else!

The Six-Day War of 1967 ended the Transjordan occupation of what they, now called Jordan, called the 'West Bank' and the Israeli military government issued an order stating that “the term 'Judea and Samaria region' shall be identical in meaning for all purposes ... to the term 'the West Bank Region'". The areas north and south of the Jerusalem District were respectively called Samaria and Judea.

Why the Northern region was called Samaria is somewhat peculiar. An abandoned Ottoman train station called Sebastia on the original site of the city of Samaria was the only existing trace of Samaria that could be found.

In 1974, the Gush Emunim movement built a community on the ruins of Sebastia (Samaria). They received encouragement from Defense Minister Shimon Peres who said that he knows of no principle that prevented the right of Jews to settle in the region west of the Jordan River. That community became the forerunner of the municipality of Kedumim.

In 1988, Jordan ceded its claim to all areas west of the Jordan River to the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). The 1994 Oslo accords, created the Palestinian Authority with responsibility for the administration over some of the territory (Areas 'A' and 'B').

The PA uses Nablus, Jenin, Tulkarm, Qalqilya, Salfit, Ramallah and Tubas as administrative centers for Northern Judea. The Palestinian Authority and the international community do not recognize the term "Samaria". We will henceforth refer to the Former 'West Bank of the Hashemite Kingdom of Transjordan' as Judea with Northern and Southern districts.

The Shomron Regional Council, headed by Yossi Dagan, is the local municipal government that administers Northern Judea should be renamed "The Northern Judea Regional Council:

When the mislabeled 'West Bank' is finally called Judea, many will understand that Judea is part of Israel!

Dr. Michael Wise is a founder and investor in numerous technology companies. He is a graduate of YU and holds a PhD .in Theoretical Physics from Brandeis U., is the author of Israel demography study (BESA).and has published numerous articles about Israel sovereignty and demographics in Judea and Samaria. mlwise@gmail.com